Amphetamines, including methamphetamines, were created in the early 20th century. No medical uses were found until the 1930s when it was first prescribed as a bronchial inhaler. The drug was soon used to treat multiple conditions, including; fatigue, narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder and obesity. These drugs were also highly addictive, leading to addicts known as “speed freaks.” In 1970, the federal government made amphetamines a schedule II narcotic, making them illegal. Through the next decade, further restrictions on the drugs and the precursor chemicals needed to manufacture the drugs lead to a decline of abuse in America.
Through the 1990’s to today, illegal methamphetamine production and abuse has been steadily rising. Starting in Hawaii and spreading rapidly through the western states methamphetamines or “Meth”, is now reported as being abused by 5% of the American population. The chemicals needed to produce meth can be found in a variety of legal, over the counter medications. Nasal decongestants, in particular, are popular due to their large content of pseudoephedrine. Decongestants are not the only source of the chemical; weight loss pills, inhalers, cold and flu pills, and cough syrup all contain large amounts of pseudoephedrine. These medications are used by almost every house hold around the world (Hunt 5).
In many Asian societies, meth is regularly used by working class people. A single dose of meth can keep a person energized without the need to eat or sleep for up to twelve hours. Many people use the meth to stay up for days at a time in order to finish more work. This equates to more money earned and is therefore justified by the users. Contractors, painters, business professionals and prostitutes all use meth with this goal. In Japan, methamphetamines account for 90% of all drug related offenses and arrest (Ling).
Due to meth’s highly addictive nature, many who use the drug remain addicted for the rest of their lives. Meth destroys the addict’s body and mind. Dramatic weight loss is the first noticeable trait. Sores on the face and body are caused by “meth bugs”, which are hallucinogenic bugs the user believes are crawling under their skin. Another visual indicator of an addict is “meth mouth.” The meth, when smoked, deteriorates tooth enamel. A poor diet and lack of oral care increase the rate tooth damage. Users also grind their teeth excessively when they are under the influence of meth. Dental procedures to repair damage are not pursued as the addict spends all of his or her available funds on the next “hit.” All side effects of meth use can be seen within six months of abuse (Meth Epidemic).
Meth destroys the mind of an addict in a similar rapid fashion. The drug triggers the brain to over produce dopamine. Dopamine is a natural chemical in the human brain that produces euphoric feelings. After years of abuse, the brain can no longer produce the chemical without meth use. This is one key factor to the relapse of most recovering addicts. Without meth in their systems, addicts are irritable, aggressive and unable to operate in normal society (nida).
Methamphetamine knows no border. Production of meth can be done anywhere, in a home, a car, but these “home cooks” account for less than 10% of meth being sold on the street. Mexico is believed to be the main source of meth in America today. Super labs produce hundreds of pounds of meth every day driving down the cost to the user. Meth cost less than any other illegal drug on the street. With intricate dispersing and transport networks in place, meth is also one of the easiest to find (Hunt 33).
Since meth abuse has exploded and migrated east across the United States, law enforcement departments and communities throughout the United States have had to quickly develop strategies and policies to address the unique and evolving challenges to deterring production, distribution, trafficking, and use of this highly...